Notes from Debbie's Kitchen
Happy Valentine's Day everyone! - DebbieFirst, I have a Brussels sprouts recipe for you which was sent to me last week by member Nicole Pullman. She says she's made this a few times and loves it.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Savory Sprouts with Avocado
from a recipe book on vegetarian cooking by Janet Swarbrick
1 1/2 lbs Brussels sprouts
1 tbsp. oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed (optional)
3 tbsp. pine nuts or split blanched almonds
1 tsp. dried oregano
3 tbsp. raisins
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ripe avocados
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp. chopped mint or parsley
Trim and halve the sprouts. Steam for 2-3 minutes, then set aside.
Heat the oil. Add the onion, garlic, nuts oregano and raisins, with a good dash of salt and pepper. Cook over moderate heat, stirring often, for about 15 minutes, or until the onion is softened.
Meanwhile halve the avocados and remove their pots, then quarter the flesh and remove the peel. Cut into chunks and toss in the lemon juice.
Add the sprouts to the onion mixture and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes, until they are really hot. Stir in the avocados and parsley or mint, then cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes, or until the avocado is hot and slightly creamy. Serve at once.I know we don't get the box until a few days after Valentine's Day, but if you want to impress your sweetie anyway, consider making this wonderful rich cake... complete with a secret ingredient which no one but you need to know about! I originally ran this recipe way back in 2001, but it is still a winner!Chocolate Beet Cake
courtesy of member Valerie Neer, modified slightly
1 1/4 C beet puree (see below)
1/2 C vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 C cocoa powder
1 1/2 C sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 C flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
The beet puree can be made ahead of time. Basically, cook them any way you like... boil, bake, whatever, then puree them. A 'done' beet can be easily pierced with a fork or knife tip. The fastest way to cook beets, however, is in a pressure cooker. Scrub but do not peel them, and cook over an inch or two of water (at least 2 C of water for large beets), at high pressure for 11-13 min for small (3-4 oz) beets, or 20 - 22 min for med to large beets (5-6 oz)*. After they're cooked and cool enough to handle, cut off stems and root and slip off skins. Cut cooked beets into chunks and puree in a blender or food processor. If your puree is too 'dry', you can probably add a tiny bit of water or beet cooking water, but only enough to make it whirl. It should be pretty thick. When I made my puree, I was short quantity-wise, and so I simply added some homemade apple butter to make up the difference (don't be afraid to be creative, I say!). Also, if you are the type of person who likes substituting some whole-wheat flour into recipes that call for regular flour, add a touch more baking soda to compensate (for example, I used 1C white and 1/2C whole wheat flour, & added 1/8 tsp. baking soda to amount shown). Okay, here's the rest of the recipe instructions:
Preheat oven to 350°F
Grease and dust with flour a bundt pan (or 8-9" square pan). In a large bowl, beat eggs. Whisk in sugar, oil, vanilla, salt & beet puree. In a separate bowl, mix flour, cocoa and soda. Add to wet ingredients a little at a time until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 45 - 50 min., or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool and serve (with sliced strawberries & ice cream -- mmmmm!!).
*this information courtesy of a wonderful cookbook called "Cooking Under Pressure" by Lorna J. SassI ran this next recipe a few years back, but it is absolutely delicious and rich - perfect for what's in the box this week! We've got the mushrooms, we've got Meyer lemons, and we all got at least one jar of crushed dry-farmed tomatoes in our cupboards from Happy Girl Kitchen!Penne with Oyster Mushrooms in Garlic and Lemon Cream Sauce
serves 4 to 6
8 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 lbs. fresh oyster mushrooms, stems trimmed, tops wiped clean as needed [you can either scale down the recipe (we're only getting 1 lb), or be satisfied with less mushrooms in the overall recipe, which would not be the end of the world]
4 tbsp. minced or pressed garlic
3 C heavy cream [don't use ultra-pasteurized! Yuck!]
4 tbsp. fresh lemon juice [use those Meyer lemons!!]
1 C tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced [use a jar of crushed dry-farmed -- don't go out and buy out-of-season tomatoes]
1 lb. penne rigate
¾ C grated asiago cheese
Melt butter, saute mushrooms until soft; add garlic and cook for a minute. Add cream, turn heat up, bring mixture to a medium simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by about half (15-20 minutes). Lower heat, stir in lemon juice and tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Cook penne in a large pot of boiling salted water, according to package directions. Drain thoroughly, and combine with sauce and asiago in a large bowl. Serve immediately with additional grated asiago or parmesan.Lastly, I'm going to continue my push to infect everyone with the 'fermentation bug'! This is so much fun, people, and anyone can do this. Lacto-fermented veggies are so good for you, I can't stress this enough. Anyway, I put my money where my mouth was and made the 'simple fermented veggies' I ran in the newsletter three weeks ago. Documented it with pictures. Here are the veggies and proportions I used, and the timing. It came out great; like garlic pickles! Only not 'cucumber' pickles - other veggies, but just as sour and garlicky.Simple fermented veggies, continued
Take a peek at "Simple fermented veggies
" from Winter Week 6, then return here, if you want the background.Ingredients
Romanesco cauliflower florets (could substitute any cauliflower)
Broccolini florets (could substitute any broccoli)
1 celery root, peeled, sliced, then cut crosswise into segments
a couple carrots, peeled and cut into small segments
1 watermelon radish, scrubbed clean (or peel carefully), cut in half then sliced thinly into half-moons
several cloves of garlic, either left whole or cut in half if large
[I was going to put in peppercorns too, but I forgot! They'd just add, well, spice!]
[And in this particular ferment, I didn't add any cabbage at all -- although there were brassicas in there]Brine
: 1 tbsp. low-mineral pure sea salt (i.e. no anti-caking agents -- check ingredients list. Yes, salt will have an ingredients list, believe it or not!) per 1 C filtered water (don't use tap; tap water contains chlorine, which will inhibit or kill the beneficial lactobacillus we want to encourage!) Dissolve the salt fully in the water to make the brine.
[I think I made 3 cups of brine in the end]
Step 1 - cut up veggies and put in a bowl or non-reactive pot that will contain them and submerge them in brine. Weight them down in some fashion and let sit overnight. Mine soaked a little over 24hrs in the end, because of 'timing' issues (you know, life happens) but in the end I think that only contributed to the yummy sourness. Soaking in the brine also softens the veggies nicely so they pack easily. Actually, in this brining step, you don't need
to weight them down, but it doesn't hurt.
I was lucky enough to have a plate that just fit snugly inside the pot!
Step 2 - scoop veggies out of the brine (reserve brine) and pack into a wide-mouth quart jar (or jars - more than one is fine; whatever it takes). [This would be where I would have added a sprinkling of peppercorns, had I remembered! I would have mixed them in with the veggies as I packed the jar.] Weight the veggies down, adding some reserved brine (if needed) so veggies are comfortably submerged.
Step 3 - let this sit at room temperature for about a week to ferment -- mine sat for 6-7 days. Again: if your jar is full, place it in a bowl so as to catch the overflow; when the veggies ferment, the liquid expands. The ferment will be most active in the first couple days. You'll see foam from bubbles form at the top. Nothing harmful; just scoop it away periodically if you like. If the brine level drops after a couple days, avoid adding fresh brine if you can; try pushing down on the weight to squeeze more juice from the veggies instead. Introducing fresh brine after the fermentation process has begun just introduces saltiness, which sort of counteracts your goal, which is for the brine-and-veggies to be souring. This is another argument in favor of filling two jars half-full instead of one to the top (like I did here); with the half-full jars, you can introduce a good inch of brine above veggie level and that will be more than sufficient to cover even with some evaporation for the fermentation period.
On the left, I had just packed the jar. On the right, it's a week later. Note how the pink of the watermelon radishes has given itself over to the brine, giving everything a lovely rosy color!
Step 4 - your fermented veggies are now ready to eat any time! Take out the weighting jar (or whatever you use) and taste some. Is it sour enough for you? Good. Then put a lid on it and stick it in your refrigerator. It will continue to ferment slowly in the fridge, which means it will continue to get better! It will keep for several weeks, even months (though typically it gets scarfed up way before then). Have a dish with lunch and help build up that healthy intestinal flora in your gut - this helps keep you well.
|Time for a yummy snack!|
Final word: as Sandor Katz says, feel free to experiment with fermenting different veggies. You can start simple -- very simple, actually -- with just cabbage and salt, and make sauerkraut. Then try cabbage and other things: cabbage and caraway seed, or cabbage and fennel seed, or cabbage and cumin seed (that's what I want to try next!). You can also try cabbage and leek. Radishes and carrots are easy additions. Turnips would be too. Apple actually goes really well in a cabbage ferment too. You see, once you get the 'bug', you'll want to try different things. I always have some fermented veggie or other either on my counter or in the fridge (or both). :-)